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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Working Dad Productions

Enjoying my final precious moments of 2-child solitude (everything is relative, and I try to be a 'glass is half full' guy, despite my predisposition to the opposite) on the porch with my coffee, on a sunny, Saturday morning. Baby (boy) #3 is due any day now (Monday, by appointment, if not earlier). Finished my morning run (which is now part of my training regimen for the upcoming triathlon I committed myself to); Jason's inside watching TV; the girls are sleeping. Ahhhh... & so it's in this moment of peace, when everything seems just about right with the world, that I come across a book review in the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal. The book is called "Home Game," by Michael Lewis. And my idea for this blog in general is given a validation that I've sensed has existed for quite a while, which is what ultimately motivated me to start it in the first place.
This book speaks to precisely what this blog aims to shine a light on: the evolution of the very definition of what it means (and is required, in many cases) to be a Dad. I am flabbergasted, although I shouldn't be. I knew I wasn't alone in my place in life. It's just a bit odd to see your thoughts echoed by one of America's finest writers. In the WSJ. Just weeks after I launched this space. I feel: proud (I'm on track!), envious (an honest-to-goodness BOOK!), wistful (I wish I could write like that!).
And the timing seems even more appropriate for me personally, seeing as how I, like Mr. Lewis, will in short order be the father of 3, which will no doubt require a reshuffling of the balance between Home Office & Dad.
I can only assume (and hope?) Mr. Lewis' tome falls short to this journal (and journey) in one way: recipes!
With that said, here's a dish I made for Jill's baby shower last week, which was met with rave reviews, and provided the added benefit of leftovers for a couple of days thereafter...

Strata is Italian for layers. I enjoy making them because of it's methodical process of building each layer, and also because it's easy to customize it to your own tastes, so long as you incorporate the essential building blocks: bread, eggs, and cheese (I know, how can you mess up that triumvirate?!). I enjoy eating strata because when you combine the main ingredients with your chosen ones, it is a true representation of the sum being greater than its parts, and also represents a riff on many standard breakfast staples, taken to a more refined level (think french toast meets quiche).
  • In a large skillet, saute 2 finely chopped onions, 4 finely chopped shallots, 1 pint sliced mushrooms (I like baby bellas) in 2 tbsp. olive oil, over medium-low heat.
  • When softened and golden, add 4 thinly sliced peppers (I chose 2 red, 2 yellow), and salt & pepper to taste. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until mixture is softened, and water is mostly evaporated. Add crumbled bacon to taste.
  • Meanwhile, grease a large baking dish and layer 3/4 loaf roughly cubed Italian bread on the bottom.
  • Whisk together a dozen eggs, 3 1/2c milk, 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard. Set aside.
  • Spread 1/2 of the veggie mixture over the bread layer.
  • Add 1/2c grated/shredded Parmesan cheese & 1 1/4c grated extra-sharp Cheddar on top of veggies.
  • Layer another 3/4 loaf of bread, remaining veggies, & same amount of cheese as before.
  • Pour egg mixture evenly over strata.
  • Chill, covered, overnight. Let stand 15 minutes before baking for an hour in 350 degree oven, until puffed and golden brown.

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